Why I Stopped Donating to the Democratic Party.

Yesterday I decided to quit sending money to the Democratic Party. It felt weird, I have to say. I donated more money for the 2020 election than at any other time in my life and fully expected to continue, mostly because I want to defy Ben Franklin and keep our republic.

For personal reasons I won’t go into, I can’t be a foot soldier activist anymore. I can’t go door-to-door, attend rallies, and so on. For the 2020 election, I wrote letters and made phone calls, but mostly, I gave money I really should have kept—modest amounts, but it was a lot for me—to candidates in races I thought could be won.

Despite the polls, despite party and independent enthusiasm, despite unconscionable antics by the other side, and despite raising obscene amounts of money, my party pretty much lost. Sure, it won the presidency—a stroke of luck, because Covid kept Biden off a physically grueling campaign trail—but it lost seats in the House. It gained a virtual tie in the Senate, Trump having turned off Republican and independent voters in Georgia enough to make them stay home.

Too many good candidates lost races they should have won. And no one in the Party said why in a definitive way, but worse, no one took responsibility and no one was held accountable. That really, really pissed me off. But would I please please please send money?

Now, despite the economy igniting, Covid in retreat (at least before vaccination refuseniks greased the skids for Delta), the war in Afghanistan winding down, and huge infrastructure legislation being on the cusp of becoming law, the Democrats are floundering. Or so it seems. I’m not even sure you can say they’re merely floundering as the President’s positives go down and his negatives up.

It’s not so much that the party can’t seem to get its message out as it is that no one seems to be trying. They’re not just bringing a knife to a gun fight, they’re bringing position papers that no one cares about. The result is that the Insurrectionist Party, who’s pretty much been unable to make negative flak stick to Biden, is still leading the conversation and winning in the media, and, possibly, the polls.

I can’t recall the least time I saw the January 6 videos of thugs pounding the Capitol. Those should be plastered all over the place every day with a reminder that Republicans own the Insurrection, and the riot should be mentioned in every media appearance. Where’s the daily outrage over the prairie fire aka the Delta variant sweeping the country because the Insurrectionists won’t get vaccinated? Right-wing southern states didn’t just make an unforced error over mishandling Covid, they gift wrapped it in foil and handed to the Democrats who…did nothing. No daily news stories of disinformed people and their children dying because they wouldn’t wear masks or wouldn’t get vaccinated, courtesy of their elected leaders.

A leading news story yesterday morning on NPR was of a new Gold Star father giving President Biden a piece of his mind over the death of the father’s son in Afghanistan. I get that, and I’d be just as livid as that dad. Furious. I don’t blame him a bit and not only empathize with him, I want to underscore over and over how that Marine sacrificed his life so others could be free.

That notwithstanding, it was a story of a casualty in a dangerous combat mission, which isn’t all that unusual. But the Democrats have ceded the conversation to perverse Republican talking points manufactured from clickbait media stories on the Afghanistan withdrawal. The tragic incident of a despondent father and his young Marine son became a signifier for the Biden administration’s “failure” of evacuating 116,000 people in two weeks from an airport with a single runway under fire.

This screed isn’t to take anything away from extraordinary reporting by, say, CNN’s Clarissa Ward, NBC’s Richard Engel, PBS’s Jane Ferguson, and others whose names I can’t immediately pull but whose astonishing work is Pulitzer-worthy. And CNN’s Jake Tapper has done the best he could for years to keep wars and soldiers in the public consciousness. No, it’s not about that—it’s about the way the Insurrectionist Party has co-opted the conversation. Is it any surprise that Republican politicians are appearing on CNN and MSNBC shows more often in the last two weeks than in the last four years?

And what are Democrats talking about? Not an administration handling a war termination, a pandemic, an economic re-boot, and a Cat 4 hurricane all at the same time. Not a Congressional panel investigating sedition and possible treason. Oh—the progressive wing wants to get rid of the Fed chair because, well, whatever it was he did. Or didn’t.

Yet my emails from Act Blue warn that their candidate du jour is dangerously close to missing her monthly fundraising deadline and imply that it’s all my fault.

Oh.

While my interest here is partisan, my political leanings take a distant back seat to my conviction that the American republic is in existential trouble because of the Insurrectionist Party and its Fox Pravdaganda.

But my party doesn’t seem to care. Why should I care about the party?

The Bansai At Karzai

The shitshow at Karzai International Airport was looking like explosive diarrhea, but an Immodium shower seems to have happened. Full planes are departing, empty ones are arriving, troops are there, and it all seems less frantic from my comfortable perch on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The Defense Department has taken over the briefings, while the hapless officials at the State Department have faded and have quit giving absurd replies to journalists’ questions they don’t like, which was pretty much all of them. Defense Department spox seem to be straightforward and as transparent as possible. Did something happen?

My amateur eye is impressed so far with the Defense Department’s conduct. At least 5,000 troops are there to secure the airport, with more on the way. Getting that many people there that quickly was pretty good, and it isn’t just the people with guns. They have to eat something, sleep somewhere, rotate shifts, get medical care, shit, shower, and shave, and so on. It’s not just the folks with guns, it’s the support they require as well. It’s been a Class A logistics achievement.

Karzai Airport has one runway. At times, full planes depart every ten minutes, if I heard this morning’s briefing correctly, with empty planes also landing. Moreover, fighter jets are circling overhead. That means, to me, that air traffic control is pretty good in the middle of all the chaos. The Defense Department has done all that in just a couple of days.

The State Department still has to “process” the non-Americans who want to leave, and the bureaucratic process appears to be stifling. The army can’t do that part, nor should it. But still, compared to just a couple of days ago, I wondered if the operation’s management had shifted from State to Defense.

Why did the State Department mess up? Was it because the staff had been gutted during the prior administration? Was it because whoever was doing the work wasn’t good at it? Poor planning, or even zero planning? We don’t know. We’ll find out in the post mortem.

Is Andrew Sullivan Right?

I booted up Twitter early this morning and saw that Andrew Sullivan (@Sullydish) was trending. My choice at the moment was to find out why, or to walk the dog. The dog won. As best as I could determine, during some TV segment or other, Mr. Sullivan said something to the effect that we need to learn to live with COVID and quit spending so much time arguing about what to do. The dog was unimpressed.

I’m calling Marquess of Twitter Rules, here, which means I get to opine without seeing the segment nor reading 99.9 percent of the comments. Moreover, this blog is mine, and I can do whatever I want.

So: Mr. Sullivan has a point, I think. Why? The angry fighting over it all—mask/not mask, vax/not vax, the whole catastrophe—isn’t accomplishing much. If governments mandate people to get vaccinated or to mask up, does that mean everyone will just say, Oh, okay, sounds good? No. Everyone just gets pissed and launches into their hardwired talking points.

As one who believes in vaccinations and masking, I’m kind of sick of carrying water for those who do not, and those who drag their feet, their knuckles, or explode in righteous outrage need to face the consequences. Already, we’re seeing airlines and hotels and bars and restaurants requiring vaccinations of both patrons and staff. The same thing should happen in grocery stores, shopping malls, and everywhere else people gather.

No vaccination? Fine. Our hours for the unvaxxed are 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Don’t want a vaccination or don’t want to wear a mask? That’s okay, but you’ll have to get your own airline. And so on.

These are sensible business decisions. I, for one, won’t take an airline that doesn’t require vaccinations and/or masks, and I won’t buy groceries at outlets who don’t take this COVID thing seriously. And as I read news reports, more and more businesses are adopting these kinds of restrictions.

My guess is schools will follow. The danger of COVID in schools appears to reflect the severity and number of cases in the greater community, and school boards will react to protect kids and teachers. Don’t want a vaccination or don’t want to wear a mask? Okay, fine. Stay home. But you’re responsible for work missed. Oh, and if you play sports, you’ll need to figure out something else.

But whatever restrictions happen, the larger point is that with so many people not getting vaccinated, COVID isn’t going away. Like any virus, it will continue to mutate as long as there are enough hosts out there, and lots of people have decided they’d prefer to be hosts. Right or wrong, that’s a fact on the ground.

That being the case, Mr. Sullivan is right. We’ll have to figure out how to live with it.

Still Vertical

I haven’t posted in a really long time.

I’ve started dozens of posts. Maybe more. But when I get into it a couple of paragraphs, the topic just doesn’t interest me anymore, so I stop.

Actually, not being interested anymore has become a problem. I don’t know why I’m not interested in anything. Old age? Maybe. Its definitely not something I can recommend. There’s not much future in it. I suppose I should at least write something so there’s something to put in my obituary, and maybe that will be a motivator too get going.

But that’s not really it. I don’t know what is. Whatever “it” is.

But I will get going, and soon.

Watch this space, as they say.

-30-

 

 

 

A Voice From Trumpland

I haven’t posted in a while, for reasons I won’t go into. Today, though, I’m running a long Twitter thread (a series of related posts) from a man whose handle is DumpsterFire45 (@DFire45). The only editing I’ve done is to put the thread into paragraphs. I hope you find it as interesting and thought-provoking as I have.

Dear liberal Twitter,

I am a white male in a red rural area of a red southern state. I wear wrangler pants from Walmart to work, I drive a 4×4, I own a firearm. I am a fiscally conservative, socially liberal Democrat. But I look exactly like the magas, and work with my hands so I come into contact with them regularly. Daily even. I believe I have some insights to offer.

They are propagandized. Decades of faux and talk radio in combination with conservative social media have ingrained right wing talking points into even casual viewers. It’s everywhere. On every TV at the doctors office. In every gym. On every radio. Everywhere. There are virtually no public or private areas that are not being inundated, outside of rare private homes. If a station besides faux is on at the doctor’s, the patients turn the channel.

Even the folks that are starting to (only just now) realize that something is “wrong” about Individual-1 are actively shamed if they question his actions openly. The words “liberal” and “democrat” are said through clenched teeth here. Folks are afraid for their social standing, friendships and jobs. So all that is openly spoken of him is good, and any bad is suppressed.

This is exactly the type of environment that would make a reasonable person question their own judgment. And the negative incentive to avoid dissent is real. The possible dem voters are pushed too far right culturally to vote progressive right now. I’m sorry. I don’t like it either and I wish it wasn’t so. But if everyone around you is claiming that the dems are out to destroy the country, it’s a goddamn stretch just to voteBlue. And if done, will mostly be done in secret to avoid ridicule.It’s about race, replacement, and Obama, with a side order of Hillary hate for good measure. And they can’t get past it. These folks are so radicalized against Obama, he is literally seen as a usurper And foreign agent that took the presidency with the help of the deep state (Hillary) and tried to bring down democracy. Watch Tucker or Hannity, or Ingraham. You’ll get the idea. They fear brown people, and losing the control that they presently enjoy. They believe that They are fighting for their lives and country, and that if they lose, their grandchildren will grow up in a country with open criminality and Mexico style narco-wars. They also believe that illegal immigrants have been allowed to vote, and feel justified in voter suppression as a result. Because they been sold the status of “victim” they feel justified in winning by any means necessary. See @Teri_Kanefield for excellent threads on hardball democracy if you’re interested in more on that.

We want them. The folks that are coming around. We want them and we need them. If crossing over will result in more shame folks will stay where they are. We need em. We can teach them all about embracing progressive values after we get em… But right now, we need them to walk into a voting booth and put a mark next to a blue candidate while that’s still an option. Embrace that. Wars are won one battle at a time. We need to take any victory we can get. The bigger the better? Sure. But small ones too.

Dems must embrace reality. I’m uninsured right now and it’s scary. I can’t afford the marketplace and I’m cash-n-carry at the doctors office. I want a progressive. Badly. But if a centrist gets the nomination I’m all in. This is about democracy. And keeping it.

So. It’s probably best if we don’t get the nominee we’re all hoping for. Twitter is not our country, and we have to accept that. Not everyone has the same understandings we do and we all still need each other to stay intact as a democracy. Vote for the dem that can win… And encourage/help others to do the same. Don’t hit the folks crossing enemy lines with fire and brimstone. Help them ease over to the side of tolerance and acceptance. That’s our strength. We let people have different points of view and choose how to live without shame. That’s who we are. It’s literally the reason we’re different. Let’s keep it. It’s fucking awesome. Individual-1 doesn’t get to take that from us.

Sorry for the typos and grammar. I have very little formal education. This concludes today’s public service announcement. When I said that I was fiscally conservative, I meant personally. I personally, am conservative financially. Dems wind up cleaning up the mess after every repub administration. We’re actually better with money than they are, but they’re better at claiming to be. They’re lying.

Some folks have brought up the gun ownership thing so… Rural areas tend to have as much, or more, crime than cities. And there are generally only 4 patrols working in my whole county at night. If I call 911 at 1 a.m., it could be a half hour or an hour before they arrive. And my neighbors are farther than in the city. They wouldn’t likely hear if help was needed. I’ve never pointed it at a human being, but I have used it to protect the animals from raccoons and possums. I believe gun ownership is a right, but would love to see reform/education.

It was pointed out to me that I’m asking a lot from people that feel marginalized, especially people of color. It’s true. I’d just like to remind everyone that the magas feel marginalized and attacked. Right or wrong they believe it. It’s the reason they feel justified in… Fighting dirty.

The problem with us joining that is that we’re the only goddamn adults right now. If we don’t do the right thing, nobody will. Sorry y’all. It’s not fair. But it is fact. There is nobody else to do it. It’s on us.

Some folks said I was pushing Biden. Actually I prefer Warren. I just really identify with the way she sees things. But we need the candidate that will pull the most dem votes. And I will vote for whoever that is. The idea that we shouldn’t act strategically in choosing a candidate is literally the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard.

And claiming that we shouldn’t care about pulling maga voters is a bad argument. Why? Because of the electoral college, and the “winner takes all” state systems to distribute those electoral votes, only a few… States will actually pick the president. Those are not liberal states. Sorry. I wish they were. But they’re not. And we have ZERO chance of fixing that right now. We just have to navigate it. Sucks right? We gotta make the “least bad” choice. But that’s where we are.

 Editor’s update: I harbor suspicions that @Dfire45 may not be a real person. Why? His posts are well-written for someone who claims to have little education (I didn’t correct much of anything) and the points he’s making could have come from a book or something. But still. They’re valid.

 

 

 

She Was Here, Until She Wasn’t

Whoever expects the dentist will be funny? You’re on your back in that clovey-smelling room, fingers clenched, tense, on edge, bright light in your face awaiting the moment when that chrome toothpick starts going rih-rih-rih in the most vulnerable crevasses of your teeth, and the dentist says something like, “Hey, isn’t today the best day of your life to this point?” and then starts laughing at her own corny joke, not just a laugh, but a deep hyuk-hyuk-hyuk, and you laugh, and the hygienist laughs, not so much at the joke itself but at the dentist’s uncontrolled and infectious laughter.

I hooked up with Dr. Kate Brokaw about six years ago, quite by chance. You knew she was walking down the hall because you could hear people laughing as she went by, so that by the time she got to your cubicle, all she had to do was talk and you’d laugh.

And she was a pretty good dentist to boot. In her mid-thirties, she found a couple of things our prior dentist had missed. She recommended a root canal one time, declining to do it herself even though she felt capable, sending me to an endodontist instead so the procedure would be done as well as it could. “She sure keeps this place loose,” I said to the receptionist, who replied she didn’t know what they’d do without her.

Then there was the time Dr. Brokaw asked if I was doing anything fun over the weekend while poking through my molars and bicuspids. No, I said, did she? “My boyfriend and I are going to the Garth Brooks concert,” she said, “and I better get a ring out of it.”

She did, becoming Kate McDowell. She left the office and bought her own practice in Boulder, and I was happy for her.

A few days ago, she was killed, the victim of a murder-suicide by her husband. She was just forty, and as I read the news clip, I kept hoping it was someone else, a different Kate McDowell, that it was all a big mistake. It wasn’t.

Anyone who’s lost someone close, especially a young person, knows the feeling of stunned shock and cosmic betrayal. Dr. Brokaw (I never got used to McDowell) was about the same age as my own kids, and when I read of her murder, I had much the same feelings I experienced years ago, when my nephew, another bright star and about her age, was killed by a drunk driver. You go through all the Kuebler-Ross stages, but the one you can’t get past–and never, ever will–is the feeling of measureless injustice. There is no answer, and never will be, to “why.”

Looking for answers leads to the what-if’s. Authorities cited domestic violence but haven’t revealed the cause of death, though I’m assuming a gun was involved. One thing about gun ownership is that someone with a gun is more likely to do something he (or she) wouldn’t otherwise do when conflict erupts. Moreover, domestic violence events are seldom one-offs, and more than half the women killed in 2017 died at the hands of a partner or family member. What if Colorado had a Red Flag Law? Would her death have been prevented?

And then, the explosive anger. What kind of anger erupted for a guy to end her life and think it was some kind of answer? In my lifetime, it has seemed that many men are put off by certain women. Smart, well-educated women. Funny women. Financially-successful women. Dr. Brokaw was all of these and more, but was the guy so threatened and vulnerable in his own mind that he crossed the line from merely put off to obscene rage? Was a flight to anger for him a thing?

Might a friend or relative noticed something wasn’t all copacetic and somehow intervened? Again, a what-if. Looking for answers where there may not be any.

Maybe there’s a larger question of a rise in anger throughout society. Indignant rage proliferates on cable news, for example, and every day, the newspaper has a series of stories on someone getting pissed off outside a bar or whatever and shooting someone else. About eight months ago, some guy in Westminster got pissed off in a road rage incident and shot a mother and her 11-year-old son in a shopping center parking lot, killing the boy. I could go on and on with similar stories, but it seems as though anger has become the strongest cultural force in our society.

Maybe no firearm was involved in this tragedy, but that doesn’t undo the fact that someone tried to solve a problem by killing someone. Rage, rage, the dying of the light, wrote Dylan Thomas.

So anyway, where am I going with this? I don’t know. I wish I did.

Stop Helping Trump

Spread the word.

George Lakoff

Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.

Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.

When you repeat Trump, you help Trump. You do this by spreading his message wide and far.

Nobody knows this better than Trump. Trump, as a media master, knows how to frame a debate. When he picks a fight, he does so deliberately. He tweets or says outrageous things, knowing they will be…

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Day 57 of The Apocalypse

Good news! Since T-who-must-not-be-named hasn’t been sworn in as CEO of the America-Trumpistan merger, we hereby cancel the Nov. 8, 2106 start date of the Apocalypse. That means there’s an outside chance it won’t happen, so the date has been reset to Jan. 20, 2017.

We’re now at minus sixteen and counting down.

Meanwhile, follow this link for an update on what’s happening in the Age of Gemini: http://robertreich.org.

Why Fly on an American Airline?

What if you went to, say, Macy’s, to buy a pair of trousers, and the clerk told you, “Sorry, the $49.95 price tag is for the 29-inch waist, and if want something larger, that’s cost you another ten dollars. Choice of color adds another five. And the bag will cost you another five bucks, and, by the way, the whole pricing structure is good only if you make your purchase on Saturdays before 9 a.m.” If any other business treated its customers like U.S. airliairlines_sucknes treat theirs, they wouldn’t be in business.

Last June, I reserved a flight costing about $775 on United Airlines for travel in September, then cancelled it two days later, thinking I’d get a full refund. Nope. I received a travel voucher for use within one year and a $200 flight change fee.  Call customer service and you get the equivalent of the finger. Don’t like that $100 baggage fee? We don’t give a shit. Don’t like paying ten bucks for a meal Subway or another chain would throw away? We don’t give a shit. Don’t like it when we revise downwards the acceptable carryon right after you bought one? We don’t give a shit. Take your business elsewhere? We don’t give a shit. They’re just as bad and we’ll probably be merging with them anyway.

It’s bad enough that you have to fly on planes built when Nixon was president, where you’re so cramped your knees are under your chin. You can hear the rivets buzz outside and hope you didn’t catch hantavirus from breathing the recirculated air. And that’s after the interminable slog of the security lines where even old people who look like your grandparents are subject to pat down.

This article in the New Yorker discusses the why’s of crappy airline service. It kind of has to do with all the mergers and the end of regulations. I guess I get all that, but what I don’t get is why the airlines don’t change. I’ve concluded that they won’t change because they don’t have to, and since they don’t have to, not wanting to doesn’t matter.

Despite a couple of mishaps lately, I love flying Southwest pretty much. They’re nearly always on time, and sometimes early. Their flights board quickly. The pricing is transparent. They don’t nickel and dime you with junk fees and gotchas. But they don’t fly to a lot of places I want to go.

What to do about it? I don’t know. Pull for the feds to regulate them, I guess. Or hope Apple or Tesla or some other company who cares about customers gets into the business.